How State Government Can Protect Open Spaces

Sometimes enclosure is not a metaphor, but literal. A new report from Environment America, the public-interest group, documents how nearly 22 million acres of land — an area larger than the state of Maine — fell victim to development between 1992 and 2003. The sources: suburban sprawl, industrial growth, drilling, logging, mining. The loss of open spaces means that ecosystems will suffer as habitat for wildlife shrinks, and humans will have less clean water, fresh air and recreational spaces.

Environment America’s report describe how state land-preservation programs in 15 states have successfully protected open spaces. Key strategies include planning and financing preservation over the long-term, the creation of dedicated funding streams to buy open spaces, and strategies that harness local and private-sector resources.

Photo by Josh Shaw, via Flickr, licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.